Let’s raise the bar

Lately I have been thinking about efforts to get men and boys involved in working to end domestic violence and sexual assault. There is a lot of good work happening now, but I wonder how many of us—of all genders—really expect men to be full partners in ending violence against women? How many of us still are surprised when a man speaks up against a rape joke, or shows empathy for a survivor of domestic violence? Can we imagine a world in which it was not just expected but obvious that most men would do these things (even when no women are around)?

I expect men to care about ending battering and rape for pretty much the exact same reasons women do. Because rape violates victims’ basic human rights. Because the threat of violence constricts women’s freedom and creativity and joy. Because men and boys’ fear of each other gets in the way of real intimacy. Because battering and rape are spiritual poison to people who batter and rape. Because violence at home tears communities apart. Because we can’t achieve any other kind of justice while women are silenced and terrorized.

Because men are human beings. Because women are human beings.

Simple enough. But talking about men’s work to end violence is not so simple. Too often I hear messages that tell men we should not rape and batter because “real men” don’t. Because men are meant to be powerful — protectors and providers for women who can’t (or shouldn’t have to) protect and provide for themselves. Those expectations might inspire men to stop hurting women (I have my doubts), but meanwhile they reinforce the idea that men are in control.

On the other hand, the bar is set so low for men it’s embarrassing. When it comes to being involved in anti-violence work, men are congratulated just for showing up, and called heroes for doing just about anything more than that.

What do you want to say to men and boys about ending men’s violence? What do you expect from men? What do you hope we can achieve together?

3 thoughts on “Let’s raise the bar”

  1. Are you stating that human beings with different reproduction parts are different? I believe this shouls be a goal for ALL poeple to end violence, not just males, MANY females commit DV EVERY DAY! the most current studies state that almost 46% of DV is commited by females. Slapping, mocking, hitting, degrading is DV even when the victim is a man!!

  2. The point of the post was that all people SHOULD be responsible for ending violence, but most people still don’t expect men to care that much about it.

    Yes, some men are victims of violence and that is important. And some women use violence and that is important.

    AND the reality is that men’s violence against women and the threat of men’s violence shapes most women’s daily lives in some ways – even women who have not been victims of violence. Men should care about that, not because we are the “bad guys” but because that is not the world we want to live in.

  3. Is this some kind of joke or something? I thought that these “most men beat women” myths were dispelled years ago (http://www.saveservices.org/wp-content/uploads/IPV-Truthwgray.png).

    You say that the threat of violence constricts women’s freedom and creativity and joy, yet you don’t seem to care that men are 400% more likely to experience violence in public.

    You say that men are powerful (so women aren’t?) and that men SHOULD protect and provide for women regardless. Feminism freed men from the responsibility to protect and provide for women as feminism plowed into eveyones brains that women are just as strong and capable as any man (which they are no?), so why SHOULD men put themselves in danger for a person who is fully capable of protecting and providing for themselves? p.s should has a blame connotation to it, when you tell someone they should do something it sets that person up for blame if they don’t, which then attaches a shame connotation to you word inspire.

    You know why men aren’t interested in ending violence against women? It’s cause we’re too busy trying to end violence against ourselves (in DV that mean trying to end violence caused by women). If you replaced men, boys, women, with ‘people’, your blog would make a lot more sense, and would be a lot less sexist.

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